“I suspect some of you are here because these are the only tickets to see Hamilton you’re ever going to get,” President Andrew Hamilton said to close his speech, before skipping off the stage to a wonderfully rearranged version of Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York.” Humble, from a man who was probably one of the few people in the room who could actually afford Hamilton tickets.
With Hamilton officially at the reins, we will see if he is able to take control and work to build upon a university that might be seen as a little out of control at the moment. The question now is whether anything will actually change post-Hamilton’s inauguration. It is hard to ignore the fact that in the course of achieving its goals as a global powerhouse of education, NYU has become increasingly corporate. With an endowment that is continuously touted as one of the lowest for a school of its caliber, one can’t help but wonder where we are getting the money for expansion.
Simply put, it comes from the students. Many students still do not fall into NYU’s need-based criteria for financial aid due to the limits of school funding, forcing them to find other ways to pay the exorbitant cost of tuition. Even though the university managed to admit its largest incoming class — or source of revenue — thus far, there has been no apparent commitment to any real change in the school’s financial structure. It seems odd that tremendous amounts of money are being spent on renovating and building more buildings, for example, while issues of affordability and teaching wages have only been tangentially addressed. While champagne was being poured and macarons were being nibbled in the lobby of the Skirball Center during Hamilton’s inauguration, members of professors and staff unions stood outside handing out flyers that called for increases in wages to anyone who would take them.
The money that would have been spent over the last week is, together with many other things, indicative of how the university may not actually be serious about affordability. In his speech, Hamilton spoke of how our university needs to do more to support the science and engineering fields. The answer, he said, was Brooklyn. With a presence of an already questionable size in downtown Manhattan, and with limitations that we are already struggling to handle, it does not seem that building into another borough is the best idea. Students get endless amounts of free t-shirts and carrot-shaped stress-relievers, but have to pay for laundry and still can’t get the campus transportation program to work correctly. Hopefully, Hamilton hasn’t bitten off more than he can chew.
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